Friday, 8 August 2014

Did THE SINGER TAKES IT ALL find its voice in week two?

Friday, 8 August 2014

Last week's premiere of THE SINGER TAKES IT ALL was mired by an embarrassing failure of its app, which meant the first three singers were actually being voted on by 100 back-stage helpers as a contingency plan. Hardly a promising start, although I quite enjoyed how this show wasn't taking itself seriously and is offering audiences something new with instant interactivity. (Well, when it works.) Britons seem to like the whole idea, too. Channel 4 were quick to reveal that 142,000 votes were cast during last week's debut (14.3% of the hour's available audience across all channels). More than 3,500 video auditions have also been uploaded to the app, mostly after the first episode was broadcast.

But was the second episode an improvement over a dodgy start, or confirmation the show is flawed and riddled with technological cock-ups?

Interestingly, the app had to be updated on the day of broadcast, so I assume glitches in the code were fixed ahead of transmission. Some text on-screen also advised viewers to quit and restart their app, which perhaps helps clear issues caused by cache and whatnot. (I'm not technically-minded when it comes to mobile apps, sorry.)

Anyway, host Alan Carr didn't have to apologise for the app not working this week.

That's progress. I suppose he could have been keeping quiet about behind-the-scenes problems, keeping viewers in blissful ignorance, but I'll give Channel 4 the benefit of the doubt here. The app actually worked, although it felt annoying that all my votes didn't seem to match the outcome of most performances. The app was working, right, Channel? Don't lie to me. Maybe my taste isn't as mainstream as I thought?

One thing I liked about this second episode was seeing last week's winner, Sophie Watson-Carr, return to sing another song.

Having won £15,000 last Friday, I had assumed that was the end of her "journey", but it seems Singer Takes it All gives winners the chance to progress through multiple weeks. This is actually a fantastic idea, because it means there's an added incentive for the public to go on the show (you could win a potential £60,000 over the month), and it also means viewers have "champions" to support week-to-week.

However, one worry is that Sophie clearly had more confidence than most other singers, as this was her second week (and third time singing on live TV), so is that an unfair advantage? And how will voters decide to use their votes with her? Should you keep voting YES because Sophie can obviously sing very well, or do you start getting picky and vote MISS if she hits one wrong note, misses a lyric, or just chooses a song you don't like?

There are always going to be issues, I guess. This isn't a perfect light entertainment format, but neither does it take itself too seriously.

Alan Carr was better this week, although it was unfortunate his celebrity guest, Take Me Out's Paddy McGuinness, would quite clearly be a better fit for an interactive live karaoke show on Friday nights. Carr isn't really the man to get a party started, is he? I think the show needs someone with a bit of bravado, who gets on with the general public. Carr's the wrong choice for this show, but it feels like Channel 4 just had to find another project for him to headline—as endless series of Chatty Man isn't value-for-money.

The Singer Takes it All showed definite signs of improvement and wasn't as embarrassing this week, but it still needs work.

I found there's a timing issue with the app, because it always begins the voting process before singers have even introduced themselves, so you either vote on their appearance, or that first vote gets wasted... and then you use up your votes ten-seconds before they actually finish their performance.

However, with no major technical faults, a more relaxed atmosphere, and a welcome twist that the winners are invited back the following week (allowing audiences to form attachments, and for them to go on winning streaks), I still think this show could snap into shape. Maybe that will happen during the last remaining two episodes (although it's doubtful), or more likely between series if Channel 4 request more and the producers opt for a soft relaunch.